U.K.: Kurdistan president’s retirement an “opportunity” for new leaders

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is pictured in New Delhi, India January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Baghdad ( The United Kingdom sees the resignation of Iraqi Kurdistan’s President, Masoud Barzani, as an opportunity for a new leadership, its foreign minister, Boris Johnson, said Monday.

“Yesterday, Masoud Barzani also retired from the office of the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We welcome the opportunity this presents for leadership of the Kurdistan Region to pass to a new generation of Kurds”, read Johnson’s statement on the British government’s website. He said such a change could help “build strong democratic institutions and resolve the historic differences between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Government of Iraq consistent with the Iraqi Constitution”.

Barzani said in a televised speech and in a letter to the parliament that he was not going to extend his term beyond November 1st.

Iraqi federal forces took over several Kurdish-held areas in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala provinces from Kurdish Peshmerga troops earlier this month in response to an independence referendum the semi-autonomous region held in September, in which 92 percent voted for independence from Iraq.

Johnson also welcomed a recent agreement by Baghdad and Erbil to halt a military standoff at disputed areas. “The UK welcomes the willingness of the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government to engage in dialogue on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution. The UK encourages both sides to agree a timetable for talks.”


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